Me-too brands just don’t cut it anymore in the professional services arena. This whitepaper examines best practices for creating a distinctive and compelling brand position in professional services.
One logo does not always translate to one cohesive brand. One of our clients, a global management consulting firm, learned this first hand. After a series of acquisitions and internal restructuring, management was focused on creating a “one firm” mentality, hoping to create synergies across a diverse array of practice areas that would lead to cross-selling opportunities and, ultimately, more substantial relationships with clients.
But as we began to dive into internal interviews with leaders and consultants within each practice area, we saw that there was a huge disconnect between management’s vision and actual behavior in the field. With little uniting the organization at a strategic level, employees were at a loss when trying to articulate the common purpose they shared with their peers in other divisions. The problem, in short, was the absence of a brand.
A general lack of knowledge of historically siloed practice areas had led to a culture of distrust. Consultants felt protective of clients and were hesitant to refer their business to other practice areas, fearful their colleagues might screw up their established relationships. Beyond that, they did not have a strong enough understanding of the firm’s capabilities across all disciplines. As a result, they did not feel comfortable broaching the topic – what if they couldn’t answer all their client’s questions?
This is a common challenge for many professional services firms, or really any firm selling multiple products and services across separate departments. Knowledge, or lack thereof, can be a major impediment to successful synergies.
A brand plays a powerful role in building credibility internally and externally by bringing a company’s disparate offerings into a single, compelling value proposition. Providing all audiences with a ‘reason to believe’ and a clear understanding of shared strengths will help to break down internal silos and drive collaboration. This will naturally lead to a different type of dialogue between employees and clients, one that easily crosses practice areas and addresses holistic solutions for a company rather than a more piecemeal approach. We’ve also found that creating a unified and detailed message map gives every stakeholder the tools to become effective brand champions.
A business strategy is only as successful as the brand permits it to be. By aligning brand strategy with business strategy, our client was able to empower its most important stakeholders with the knowledge they need to understand the firm’s true value proposition, elevating the firm’s position in the marketplace and increasing the potential for organic growth and success.
While a comprehensive verbal and visual system forms the foundation of a brand, it’s only the beginning of executing an effective branding strategy. To be successful, a brand needs to be expressed consistently across all internal and external touchpoints. Consistency is critical to establish a well-defined brand and eliminate confusion in the marketplace…
We often get asked: When should a brand be refreshed? While there are some major inflection points we can point to — a merger, a reputational crisis — in many cases the answer is not simple. However, in reviewing branding projects that DeSantis Breindel has worked on over the years, we noticed five warning signs our clients…